GOD GIVES THE CALL
Have you been praying that God use you? Have you been praying that
all things that hinder your walk with Him be removed? When you act or speak
in the flesh and know that it was wrong do you feel a great conviction? Are
even the small things you do under scrutiny by God? If your answers are all
yes then it is time to answer the call that God is making. It is a call to
One morning, during my devotional time,
God pointed something out to me. I was reading my Bible and don't
remember exactly what scripture I was reading, but was something along the
lines of being holy. God put the thought in my head that, if I
wanted, I could aspire to be 100% in His will all the time. He was
telling me it was possible for me to get to the place where I no
longer sin! Whoa whoa whoa!! Stop the presses!! Hold
the phone and hold the horses!! Slam on those brakes!! At
first, just thinking of not sinning any more brought the words "blasphemy"
and "sacrilegious" to mind. After all, Jesus was the only one who was
able to not sin! I'm not Jesus!
I tried to push it out of my mind since
it was obviously wrong. It was as easy to push out of my mind as it
is to throw away a boomerang. It was as easy to push out of my mind
as it is to knock fruit flies off a piece of rotten fruit using a toothpick.
It was as easy to push out of my mind as it would be for me to push a
10-ton boulder out of my way. Get the picture??
When I hear God teaching me something
new (new to me) I always meditate on it. If it is something that I
can't push out of my mind then that pretty much tells me that I didn't
think of it myself. I look for scriptures to either prove I was
hearing wrong or to prove I was hearing right. I keep asking God to
verify or sometimes clarify what He told me. In this case I was sure
I heard wrong. However, the more I struggled the more firmly God
gripped me. The more I protested the more He calmly insisted that it
I reflected on the
scriptures mentioning holiness and holy. Those scriptures reminded me
of others. I began to realize that, as I had read them over and over
and over in the past, I had never really absorbed them into my heart.
I had held them at arm's length and minimized their meaning. Some of
those scriptures were:
"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse
ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness
in the fear of God."
"But as he which hath called you is
holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written,
Be ye holy; for I am holy."
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the
branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more
can ye, except ye abide in me."
"Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou
art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee."
"She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn
thee: go, and sin no more."
ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
"And be not conformed to this world:
but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what
is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
"Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any
thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you."
"According as he hath chosen us in
him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without
blame before him in love."
"That he might present it to himself
a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that
it should be holy and without blemish."
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless
and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked
and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;holding
forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I
have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
I read those scriptures before! I read them many times. Why,
all of a sudden, were they taking on a stronger meaning? I had taken
them lightly in the context of "people just can't help but sin". I
had read them with pre-conceived ideas helping me translate them!!!!
I had been taught over and over that we were to try to not sin and when we
failed God would forgive us. My understanding had relied heavily on
what Paul said in Romans 7:18-25:
"For I know that in
me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present
with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the
good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that
dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil
is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward
man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my
mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my
members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body
of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then
with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of
I fluctuated between moments of heart-racing joy
thinking that sinlessness was attainable and times of telling myself to
come back to reality where sin is a daily occurrence. There wasn't
anyone I knew that would say I was a bad person or even actually call me a
sinner. I am an honest person. I can't remember the last time I
told a lie. I do not steal. I don't hurt anyone. I try
really hard to be in God's will all of the time. Yet, there are times
when I go ahead and say or do things I shouldn't. I kind of shut my
ears to God's leading.
Some of the things I would tell myself:
"It's not that big of a
"It's not like I'm hurting anyone."
"I'm trying, so that counts for something."
"I worked hard today. I deserve to focus on myself."
"I am able to control it some of the time so I am doing better than when I
did it all of the time."
"He/she deserved to hear that." (Regarding things I said)
"God will forgive me."
"I can't really be expected to love THOSE people."
"It's impossible not to sin."
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
(Romans 3:23) "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world,
and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have
sinned." (Romans 5:12) "I'm one of those 'all's' in those
strongest argument was that it was impossible not to sin. Once I put
that "fact" into my head then I had more great excuses. Naturally,
many times I couldn't help but sin. I would say things I shouldn't
and do things I shouldn't, knowing that God didn't approve. Of
course, it wasn't my fault. It was a result of the circumstances
surrounding me. It was my flesh jumping out before I could control
it. Then I might justify what I said or did with a, "I deserved the
right to do that," or, "that other person deserved to receive what I said
or did anyway." After all, I am not a bad person. The sins I
commit fall within acceptability in society's eyes. Everybody does
it. It's just God that disapproves. Other Christians do it,
could go on and on with justification for my actions. Yet, I had read
where Jesus said, "Sin no more" in John 5:14 and 8:11 many times.
What did I think it meant? Did I think that Jesus was being facetious
because He knew it was impossible to do? Did I think that He was
trying to make them feel bad? Did I think He just meant, don't do a
particular sin any more? I think that what I was doing was NOT
THINKING. I just zipped on by and didn't examine what He had said.
After all, it was them He was speaking to, not me!
under different pastors in different churches. They all seemed to
agree that we will undoubtedly all sin now and again. I've heard
pastors make excuses for their own sins from the pulpit. So, if
pastors accept sin as a way of life, why shouldn't I?
there I was. Have you ever seen someone wrestling with themselves?
That was me. The neighbors could hear strange things coming from my
house.... "NOOOOOOOOO!" and "YESSSSSSSS!" "IMPOSSIBLE!"
and "POSSIBLE!" "NO WAY!" and "YES WAY!" "CAN'T!"
and "CAN!" No, I'm kidding. I wasn't yelling. It
was all inside my head.
IT BE TRUE?
thing is I wanted to believe it. I got all excited thinking that I
actually could get to the point where I was pleasing God all of the time.
After all, I had made a
vow to Him telling Him I was going to
always choose His ways and not my own. Apparently I thought I could do
it, or at least it was my deep desire to be able to do it. I know God
put it on my heart to make that vow.
I got caught up on all
my mailing list email and found three Words that were confirming what I had
heard God telling me. (I put them under "Other Sources" on the other
Holiness page I put together.) I love it when He does
that. He doesn't expect us to be flying alone or doubtfully.
There have been a lot of times He has confirmed things He told me through
email Words given by other people. What a wonderful tool, the
Internet. I can be alone in my house and get confirmation.
A few days later when I told my weekly prayer partner about feeling God was
calling me to holiness, to sinlessness, you should have seen the look on
her face. It was probably the same look I had when God announced it
to me. It was a look of shock combined with puzzlement and some
denial. I could see her mind start humming along, looking for
scripture that would refute what she heard me saying. Her mouth even
opened to speak those scriptures because she knew I was hearing wrongly.
Then she slowly closed her mouth and began to wrestle with the concept,
just as I had wrestled with it. The next week when we got together
again, she had come to the conclusion that it was, indeed, time to embrace
I had to keep reminding myself that this was not a
new concept. The scriptures are full of instruction about holiness.
If you read the scriptures that have the words "holiness," "holy,"
"perfect," and other similar words you will find more. As listed in
the scriptures above, Jesus told people to "sin no more." There is no
getting away from the fact, God expects us to stop sinning.
MAKING IT HAPPEN
Have you ever noticed that when God calls you to
do something He always equips you with the tools you need? If He gives
you an assignment that He wants you to complete He isn't going to say, "Good
luck! You're going to need it!" If He wants it done then He will
make sure that you have all you need to do it.
What tools do
we need to stop sinning? How about love? If we loved all people
as much as God wants us to love them would we ever say anything mean,
hurtful, or cruel? If we had enough love for other people would we be
selfish with our talents, time, money, or anything else we have? If
we trusted and allowed God to heal our own hurts would we retreat into
drugs, alcohol, or other escape-modes? There are way too many kinds
of sin to cover them all, but the bottom line is that God is offering us
patience, love, understanding, wisdom, joy, and many other wonderful tools
that will help us to stop sinning.
Now that I've introduced the call God gave me and you've had a chance to
think about it a little, let me add this. The same time He told me it
was time for holiness in my life He threw in something else. He told
me it would be EASY! Oh, come on! It seemed so
ridiculously false that I almost laughed. He told me that it was EASY
not to sin! What a kidder! Such a sense of humor God has!
Easy! Pfffft! It's easy TO sin, not easy to NOT
sin! Have you ever tried to explain something to God to show Him that
He made a mistake? Well, I sure tried on that one! After all,
even Paul continued to sin and complained how hard it was to do the right
things. Am I better than PAUL?? I think not! What about
my pastors who admitted to sinning? Am I better than them??
They were called by God to teach people about what God wants! How
could I do what they couldn't?
Well, it seemed God just listened to my arguments and then gently repeated,
"It's easy." No, that couldn't be true! I figured I must have
been losing my mind and hearing things. I had to be imagining that.
I made it up. Yeah, that's it, I made it up! Then, when I kept
mulling the whole thing over it occurred to me that I would NEVER imagine
something like that. I wouldn't entertain the notion that not sinning
is easy any more than I'd all of a sudden try to convince myself that I was
the Queen of England!
The more I thought about it the
clearer it became. It is easy to sin because I want to do
those things. They are a result of the lust of the flesh. The
word lust is used mostly to refer to things of a sexual nature these days,
but the lust of the flesh actually refers to the reason we sin when we know
that something is wrong. When we do something even when we know we
shouldn't then we are getting some kind of satisfaction out of it or else
we wouldn't do it in the first place. Perhaps we are serving out our
own form of justice. Perhaps we need to prove that we are right and
somebody else is wrong. Perhaps we feel we deserve to have something
that isn't really ours. Perhaps lying is an easy way out of
something. Each time we sin there is a reason for it and that reason
probably has something to do with self-satisfaction or self-gratification
of some kind.
We can justify sinning until we are blue in
the face but we will never convince God that sinning is OK. If we are
sensitive to what God is telling us then we will never be fully convinced
that it is OK for us to do something wrong because God will prick us about
it every single time. He knows the effects of everything and that's
why He wants us not to sin. He can see where a sin might hurt other
people or hurt us, even when we don't. It is easy for us to believe
that a sin that only affects ourselves is not bad. Well, God can see
the effect of the build up of sin against ourselves. There are
consequences that may end up creating something bigger. If we allow a
tiny sin then we may be setting ourselves up to be hardened in our hearts
so bigger and bigger sin seems insignificant. Our "tiny" sin may
cause us to harden our hearts against God. Our buildup of tiny sins
may affect our health or our mental state. Only God knows the full
God will show us when something is a sin. He
knows what is good and what is bad in our life. When we have
the conviction that something we said or something we did was wrong, then
the chances are very good that was God telling us it was wrong. There
are even some things that are allowed in the Bible or that He allows others
to do that would be sin for us to do. God is the authority on what is
sin and what is not and handles each person on an individual basis.
It is time we quit trying to convince ourselves that we
can't help sinning. We need to face the fact that we are choosing to
sin each and every time we do it. Every single day we are faced with
an endless array of choices. We choose what words we will say.
We choose what actions we will take. We choose what facial
expressions to use. We even choose what things we will allow our mind
to dwell upon. God knows which choice we should make. He
communicates His desires to us moment by moment. We can choose to
ignore the conviction or we can choose to listen and do something about it.
We need to examine everything before we do it. It just takes a
second. We can choose to react in the flesh or react as God wants us
to react. It is like walking. You don't get from one location
to another without a series of individual steps. That's how each day
progresses, with a series of choices. Choose God's way or choose our
own. Over and over it happens. Choose God's way or choose our
own... choose God's way or choose our own... over and over day in and day
A NECESSARY STEP
In order to be
completely willing to choose God every time it is necessary to complete the
process of dying-to-self. I've already done some studies on
dying-to-self that you can read if you are interested. One is a series
studies and the other is a brief
description of my own
Dying-to-self is the process of giving our lives to God. It is the
process of giving back to Him what He gave us in the first place. It
is described in various scriptures such as:
sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O
God, thou wilt not despise."
"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the
death of his saints."
"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If
any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross,
and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and
whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."
"Verily, verily, I say unto you,
Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but
if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life
shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto
"Always bearing about in the body the
dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest
in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for
Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our
mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you."
"And they that are Christ's have
crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."
"Yea doubtless, and I count all things
but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for
whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung,
that I may win Christ,"
"And you, being dead in your sins and
the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him,
having forgiven you all trespasses."
"Mortify therefore your members which
are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil
concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:"
"It is a faithful saying: For if we be
dead with him, we shall also live with him."
The thing that happens when we complete the
process of dying-to-self is that we are so focused on what God wants that
it is no longer important to consider what we want. We have learned
to trust God completely and know that He will look out for our needs and
desires so that we don't have to even think about them any more.
ONCE I WAS CONVINCED
I had joyfully
yet somewhat reluctantly come to the conclusion that God expected me to not
sin any more. Ever since then I have been paying close attention to
the times that I chose to sin. The first week I just became an
observer. I did everything I normally do. Each time I felt the
conviction that I should or shouldn't do something I went ahead and did what
I would have always done. At the same time I examined what motivated
me to do what I did and what it would take for me to follow God's leading
and to do the right thing. It was like I was a scientist observing
myself and keeping track of my own actions.
sounds very strange to be observing your own self. I figured that I
would be able to get an idea as to whether it would be possible for me to
achieve holiness. I wanted to see why I did what I did. It was
very strange because, in most cases, the things I did were just habit.
I had never had a strong reason to stop doing them so I just kept doing
them. Those things were the most easy to change. I just had to
stay alert and on guard. I couldn't relax and allow my brain to go
into "automatic drive." I had to be aware of every word I said
and every action I took.
So, as of this writing, I
have been slowly conforming to God's will, one thing at a time. I
have to be on guard all the time, however. It would be easy to slip
into a mode of, "what difference does it make?" I still don't see
what is wrong with some of the things God is showing me that He wants
changed. I am still tempted to treat people in the way I feel they
deserve based on their own actions. In a way I would like the freedom
to be just like everyone else, doing what I want, within reason.
The only way I can give up on my quest for holiness is to turn my back on
God. I would have to, on purpose, choose my ways over His. I
would have to ignore Him when He is speaking to me. These are the
things I was doing before, but now it would be even worse because I have
more knowledge about being holy. Each time I read a scripture that
points to holiness I won't be able to turn my head and pretend it means
However, I will not settle for less than what God wants me to be. My
desire is to please Him. My desire is to one day hear Him say, "Well
done good and faithful servant."
God will help me to achieve
what He wants me to do. He knows the things we go through here.
Jesus "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
Holiness is all relative based on God's will
for each of us. Like I said, what is sin for one person is not
necessarily sin for another. What is sin for us one day is not
necessarily sin on a different day. The only way to find out is to be
listening to that "still, small voice" of God and finding out His desire
IT ISN'T JUST ABOUT YOU
first seems to be all about an individual's relationship with God.
Yet, that is only a small part of it. What we do, how we act, the
things we say all affect other people. Consider this quote from the
book Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts, "Eternal destinies
are involved in the matters of thy holiness and thy faithfulness and thine
obedience to My direction and will; but My love for thee is independent of
these factors." Eternal destinies! I wrote another article that
deals with how the things we do and say have far-reaching effects. It
is called "Are You Building Up or
The only way that people are going
to see God in us is if we stand out from the crowd. We have to appear
to be different than everyone else. How does that happen? We
can't react in the expected way. We must be speaking words of
edification when people expect to hear anger or some other negative
emotion. We must love people who insist on being unlovable. If
we are constantly listening to what God wants us to be doing and saying
then we will be different than the rest. When we choose to do things
God's way then even our countenance will reflect Him. The things we
are doing will not have an undertone of selfishness because the things we
are doing will not be to serve our own needs.
We will look
like everyone else but we will shine with an unearthly light. We will
shine with God's love, with truth, with strength, with peace, and with all
the other things that God desires us to demonstrate. Other lives will
be affected by what we say and do. Only God knows what the long-term
effects will be. We just have to trust Him to know and then obey.
THE BATTLE IS ON
So here I am, in the midst of a
war in my quest for holiness. The enemy is hoping I will fail.
He knows that failure would cause me to withdraw from a close relationship
from God due to guilt. When I am ignoring what God wants then I try to
hide from Him. It's as if I treat God like I would a person who is mad
at me. I figure He would be mad so I don't think about Him, which is
my way of hiding from Him.
I am going to have to fight
hard to resist temptation. I know I will be tempted to take the easy
route. I will not want to be the odd person when all around me are
doing wrong. Yet, I must do as God directs in spite of my
surroundings. I will be tempted to want to treat people the way I
feel they need to be treated. There are going to be many different
temptations to do wrong.
I will undoubtedly receive
resistance from other Christians. Christians are probably less likely
to believe that they should push toward holiness than non-Christians who
believe that good behavior is enough to get a person into heaven. For
the most part, Christians are stuck in the mode I was in of feeling it was
acceptable to sin now and again. There is a bumper sticker I've seen
a lot that says, "Christians are not perfect, just forgiven." In the
light of God wanting us to be holy that is not a good witness to the rest
of the world!
I must be alert at all times. I must
anticipate the wrong things that I will want to do (based on my past
behavior and my bad habits) and face them down one by one.
I must become used to listening
to God all the time. I must not assume that something that is in His
will one day will be what He wants me to do every single time.
The more I walk in God's will the easier it will become because it will
become automatic. My bad habits will become good habits.
The hardest thing is to not act the same around my husband. He is the
one I am around the most and I have built habits and automatic responses
over the years. God knows and will help me. After all, I can't
achieve any of this on my own. My portion is to find out what God's
desire is for me and allow God to help me change to become all that He
There are other things that must happen before I
can get anywhere near anything resembling holiness, too. I must learn
humility. I must die to those things that make me special (see the
dying-to-self.) Holiness is not a stand-alone concept.
There are a lot of other factors involved. In order to be walking in
God's will it is necessary to allow ourselves to be taught by God. He
will bring us to that place step-by-step. Each of us is different and
needs to go through a somewhat different process. If we choose to
accept then the result is the same: doing everything in God's will.
and quotes from various people on holiness